For those of you that have been following along this winter, you know that I am also urging you not just to mail it in this year. I have been talking about why we need to continue to invest in our operations because it’s what we learn now that will help us down the road. As I have talked about this all winter, I have taken the approach to making proper investments in capital on your operations. But, there is one aspect of investing in your operation that we haven’t talked about, and that is research.
I am a big believer in doing your own research. When I am looking at something new, I never just trust the marketing. I do my own research, do lots of reading, and then make my decision based on the facts and my gut instinct. I think that you as an ag producer should always be willing to do the same thing on your farms. If you have an idea, new products, new farming practice, or anything else that has been gnawing at your curiosity for a while now, I think you owe it to yourself to look into it further. This is where having that trusted advisor in your corner pays dividends as well. A sounding board for your ideas is always a good thing. It helps you to be better prepared for the research. New ideas from others can help you refine what your question is, or how you are going to go about answering it.
But I also want to challenge you to think about others in the world of agriculture. Not just your neighbors, but operations in your county and state as well. What about including your research in with theirs when it comes to how we test, and what we do with the results? So here are a couple of things that I want you to consider:
When it comes to on-farm research, the size of the research doesn’t have to be set. Sure, when Universities do research, they are small plots, replicated lots of times. But we plant with equipment that is much bigger than a plot planter or combine. We want to harvest full combine swaths and plant full planters. But, I do think that while we research with bigger equipment, the idea of replication is just as important. As a Precision Ag guy, I know just how much variability lies under our fields, and how it affects the crops that we grow. But as a Precision Ag guy, I can’t begin to explain how replication of a trial addresses variability and ensures more reliable results, I just know that it does.
But all of this leads me to my final point. When it comes to understanding what you want to do for research, nobody knows better about what you need to do for your farm than you do. That being said, most of us, myself included are not well versed in how to do research that can stand up and bring the same value to other operations that it does for you. And I firmly believe that the only thing that brings you more value than doing research on your own farm and seeing the results for yourself, is seeing your data integrated with other data, not just locally, but across a big area to see if the results hold true for most everybody. So, if you are going to do research this year, whether it is a DownForce trial or Starter Fertilizer Additive, I am going to urge you to reach out beyond your normal network. We have some great people in CVA that specialize in Research like our Innovation Agronomist Mick Goedeken, our Lead Agronomist, Neil Schumacher, and our RD team in Brian Johnson and Michael Bock. Your FSA knows how to put you in touch with somebody who knows how to set up your research so that it can be part of a more significant dataset that brings more value to your farm and others as well. All you have to do is ask.